Creating secure societies

Two universities. One ambition. More social impact.

We are working on a resilient and secure society

This theme is about safety, flexibility, resistance and stability. With the impact programme ‘Secure Societies’, we contribute to strengthening the resilience and security of our society so that it becomes adaptive and remains stable in times of crisis. 

Quick fixes and root causes

Security issues in society are so complex that they cannot be resolved by one party. Take the corona pandemic, for example. It affected not only our healthcare but also our economy. Polarised discussions about whether or not to vaccinate show that this is also a social crisis. How do we deal with this? A natural reaction is to opt for quick solutions. In this way, we remove uncertainty and prevent unrest, but we do not combat the deeper causes.

Multi-level interests

With our impact programme, we therefore create sustainable solutions with attention to the underlying dynamics and processes. By working together with governments, businesses, organisations and citizens, we take the interests at multiple levels into account. In this way, we come ever closer to a safe and resilient society. A society in which we remain standing, embrace setbacks and emerge stronger.

Unique approach

The combination of social sciences with technology makes our approach unique. We use theories and methods from the alpha, beta and gamma sciences. Hence, we gain a good understanding of safety issues and work on sustainable solutions. Moreover, we have knowledge of both urban Amsterdam and rural Twente. These insights enable us to advise on safety issues in both types of areas.

  • Focus areas

    Crisis management

    We speak of a crisis when society is disrupted by an emergency. The further course of the crisis partly depends on how the government responds to it. Within this theme we therefore investigate the interaction between the authorities, involved parties and affected communities. We want to better understand them and improve them as much as possible. To this end, we are studying the various methods and organisational forms that play a role. We assess them not only for their effectiveness but also for their intended and unintended consequences. In addition, we think about improving policy interventions, for example with early warning systems.

    Undermining society

    When criminals make use of the services of legal parties, the underworld and the upper world become increasingly intertwined. This leads to intimidation, extreme violence and corruption, which insidiously undermines our society. Our aim is to gain a better understanding of the complexity of this undermining effect, so that we can develop sustainable interventions. Within this theme, we therefore take a close look at social, economic and legal consequences. For example, we are investigating how we can detect drug labs as quickly as possible with the help of sniffer drones.


    is a more visible consequence of crises. Growing contrast between groups is disruptive for a society that benefits from cooperation, trust and empathy. We want to understand the underlying processes of polarisation so that we can better prevent and counter social unrest. To this end, we study the psychological, sociological, technological and political factors that can influence it. In addition, we are experimenting with ways of generating empathy, for example with virtual reality. 

  • More information

    Would you like to know more about this impact programme? Please contact us. We would be happy to help you.